TELL THEM THAT IT’S HUMAN NATURE
The publisher of Kaieteur News is far more intuitive than he is given credit for. His decision for example to carry government ads free of cost is one that recognises the public good that is served such ads.
The government took a decision to discontinue ads to the daily newspapers in favour of advertising them on a designated website. The assumption here is that the persons who are interested in tendering for government jobs would go to the website and be able to see the invitations for tender and expressions of interests. What about the members of the public? Does the small man not have an interest in these ads?
Judging from the actions of the government in no longer placing these ads in the national newspapers where they can be scrutinised by the public, the government is really implying that the only persons with any real interest in these ads are those who have to tender for them. But the government is wrong and this is why the actions of Glenn Lall are so far-sighted. He has recognised that there is greater public good that is served by the publication of these ads and this is why he has decided that despite his newspaper not receiving any more of these ads, he will in the interest of the public carry them free of cost.
This is really an action which the entire country should be hailing because had these ads not been made public in the newspapers, there are many things which may not have arisen. For example, there was an advertisement inviting tenders to build a car port within the compound of parliament building. Now, one would think that it is those who are tendering for this job who would have an interest in this matter.
Well, Kaieteur News carried the ad in its newspaper and immediately there was an outcry from outside of the contracting community. There were a number of comments made about the suitability of constructing a car port at the eastern end of Parliament Buildings. The idea was criticised as changing the aesthetics of the compound. There were letters and op-ed comments critical of this project which from all accounts seems no longer on the cards – and all because it was advertised in the newspapers. Now had it not been advertised, those critical of the building of the car port would not have been able to have their say until the contract was awarded and the works started by which time it would have been too late to stop the project. This is something that Glenn Lall saw before anyone else and this is why he has insisted that he will carry the government ads free of cost. He knows what can happen.
Then there is the case with the ad that was placed in the daily newspapers inviting persons to tender for the supply of materials and services for the Hope Canal. I believe it was this column that raised the question as to if the Hope Canal is going to be tendered out why was the National Drainage and Irrigation Agency inviting tenders for the supply of materials and services? Why was the entire project not tendered out or tendered out in lots to private contractors?
These questions were able to be raised because the ads were made public and therefore persons who have no interest in tendering for projects but are very much interested in knowing what is going on in the country, read the ads and responded.
The comments have forced an explanation from the authorities. But before we get to that let me congratulate Adam Harris and the Kaieteur News for the great work they did in reporting on the opening of the bids for this project. It was stunning to learn that this project was for hundreds of millions of dollars. Therefore it again has to be asked, and I hope that the Kaieteur News stays on top of this issue, why it is that the NDIA is inviting tenders for works that will cost such massive amounts of money.
The explanation has come and it is now being explained that the excavation aspects of the construction of the canal is being done by the NDIA and the other works will be contracted out. But why is this so? Why is the NDIA involved in the excavation works? Why was this aspect, including the procurement of services and materials not contracted out? Why? Why? Don’t tell me it’s human nature.
Finally there is the issue of the re-advertisement of the en bloc sale of government’s shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company. This was advertised sometime ago but the tender has now been extended.
Now this would not have been known to many persons because the vast majority of the people of this country are not going to go on the website in which the government ads are now being placed to check on these things. But they will read it when it appears in the newspaper and they will ask why the tender has been re-advertised. Why? Why? Don’t tell me it’s human nature.
Glenn Lall saw these implications long before anyone else and he understood how important it is for the Guyanese people to be able to express their opinions about actions of the government, such as projects and proposed sales. The people cannot comment on things if they do not have the information, and one of the ways in which they will have the information is by reading about it in the newspaper.
This is why he did what he did, and for it he deserves the greatest praise, something that the social and political organizations seem reluctant to do in this country.